Jump to content
Displayed prices are for multiple nights. Check the site for price per night. I see hostels starting at 200b/day and hotels from 500b/day on agoda.

Books -- what are we reading lately?


Recommended Posts

The last time I posted here I had just finished Post Office by Charles Bukowski. I'm going to list the books I've read since then with a rating out of ten and a short review. Last year I decided I'm going to read some of my favourite books again.

 

The Damage Done by Warren Fellows

 

The third time I've read this. Brilliant stuff. About the convicted heroin smuggler Warren Fellows who served 12 years in the notorious Bang Kwang prison in Bangkok. The ultimate novel about prison and redemption. Highly recommended. Ten out of ten.

 

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

 

The second time I've read this. Absolutely fascinating. Essential reading if you have an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge. I highly recommend this. Ten out of ten.

 

1984 by George Orwell

 

I've read this several times now. It's absolute class and I don't think I need to say too much about this because everyone knows it's one of the best novels ever written. It's one of my favourite novels. A work of pure genius and a literary masterpiece, everyone should read this book in their lifetime. Ten out of ten and highly recommended.

 

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

 

The second time I've read this. This is brilliant and one of my favourite Welsh novels. Welsh is one of my favourite contemporary writers and if you haven't read a book of his then this would be a good one to start with. Ten out of ten and highly recommended.

 

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

What a big disappointment this was after reading The Great Gatsby which I thought was brilliant. This is nowhere near as good in comparison. Some people see this as Fitzgerald's greatest work but I can't see it myself and can understand why it had such mixed reviews when it was released. He's clearly a talented writer but I found the plot to this rather stale. His sentence structure is frequently convoluted too which makes it hard to follow in places. I did however enjoy the main character's descent into alcoholism which resonated with me. Six out of ten.

 

 

Porno by Irvine Welsh

 

This is the sequel to Trainspotting and another book that I've already read. it seemed appropriate to read it again before I watched the recently released Trainspotting 2 movie which is based on this novel, although the plot of the film is very different to the book. I did however love the movie and it worked very well, with the decision to write a script with a different plot to the book a good one. This book is also excellent and as good as Trainspotting. I'm yet to read a Welsh novel that I didn't rate highly and I've only got two left to read. His novels are laugh out loud funny in so many places. His work resonates with me because many of the events that occur in his novels have happened in my own life. I think many are put off reading his books because much of them are written in a broad Edinburgh accent but my advice is to persevere because before long you will get into a rhythm and get used to the accent when you read. The pay off is worth it because his novels are exceptionally good and this guy is a literary genius in my opinion. Ten out of ten. Highly recommended but read Trainspotting first.

 

Women by Charles Bukowski

 

I'm so glad I discovered Bukowski last year. Man can I relate to this guy. I read Post Office last year which I enjoyed but this was way better. It's cynical, vulgar, crude and downright hilarious. No wonder they call this guy the "laureate of American lowlife." This guy had a real debauched existence and a sex life that would have put Casanova to shame. Great stuff and mongers will enjoy this. I've since read some of his poetry which is really good too. Ten out of ten and once more, highly recommended.

 

A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh

 

The second to last novel Welsh has written. As always a great read and highly entertaining. It's a riotous tale that includes the usual dose of sex, violence and drug abuse you'd expect in a Welsh novel but with some more controversial elements such as incest and necrophilia thrown in for good measure. The plot is centred around the recurring character of "Juice" Terry Lawson who was also a protagonist in the Glue and Porno novels. Welsh's characters are genius because even though they are villains and reprobates they have a benevolence and charm that the reader warms to. Nine out of ten.

 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

 

I read Lord Jim a few years ago and didn't rate it but I thought I'd give Conrad a second chance because people speak so highly of this novel. I recently watched Apocalypse Now again and until then had no idea it was based on this book. It's about a voyage up the Congo river to find the enigmatic Mr Kurtz, an ivory trader whom the narrator is obsessed with. It's set during the height of British imperialism in Africa and deals with the disturbing effects that exploitation had on African societies and the violent behaviour that induced in many. It's a great read and considered to be one of the best books ever written. Nine out of ten.

 

I'm currently 240 pages into War and Peace. I felt it was high time I read this epic literary classic.

 

I went to the library and could only get Pulp by Bukowski. I have already started looking for the others. He is one of those writers where you constantly want to get the yellow marker out and highlight some of his prose. I also noted that one of the contributors here didn't like John Burdett but can I suggest that he falls into the same category. I constantly want to underline and recall some of the gems of wisdom. Thanks for the intro to Bukowski.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...
  • Replies 286
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Two weeks ago I finally finished Tolstoy's magnum opus - the epic War and Peace. Its plot is mainly concerned with Napoleon's war against Russia at the beginning of the 19th century and two aristocrat

I have recently been switching back and forth between Clive Cussler and Stuart Woods. Both have good books and some not as good. Kind of like Dean Koontz. I read my Kindle every night and listen to Au

First I'm supposed to have said I downloaded a version when I didn't and haven't.......Then called a Wuss... when I'm not......and declared a regular at the wonderful Cherry bar.....When I've only bee

Posted Images

Two weeks ago I finally finished Tolstoy's magnum opus - the epic War and Peace. Its plot is mainly concerned with Napoleon's war against Russia at the beginning of the 19th century and two aristocratic Russian families. It's a fantastic novel. At nearly a thousand pages of small print many might think this novel is superfluous in places but it isn't - such is the quality of Tolstoy's writing he can make even the most uneventful chapters interesting. With over five hundred characters in this novel I sometimes had to pause and remind myself who some of the less involved characters were but with the main characters I felt that I knew them so well by the latter stages of the novel it was almost as if I could feel their emotions - such is the brilliance of Tolstoy's writing. No wonder this is considered one of the greatest books ever written. I highly recommend it. Lots of people may be put off reading a book of this magnitude just like I used to be but now I see reading a book this long the same as reading three novels consecutively and when you look at it that way it makes it easier to accomplish. The thing that I like about Tolstoy and his Russian counterpart Dostoyevsky is that their novels deal at length with philosophical subjects and in this case, Tolstoy's unique philosophy on history and how it is created. I've had this novel for years so I'm proud to finally have read it because I think it's a novel everybody should read in their life.

 

  • Upvote 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm proud to say that I did a speed reading course and read the whole book in a day!!!!

 

 

As you say ...'it's about Russia'

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of the taciturn POTUS Calvin Coolidge, who when returning from a church sermon was asked by his sister what it was about.

"Sin" came the answer. "Well, what did he say?". "He was against it".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of the taciturn POTUS Calvin Coolidge, who when returning from a church sermon was asked by his sister what it was about.

"Sin" came the answer. "Well, what did he say?". "He was against it".

 

Oh I could elaborate, believe me. For a novel that is so long the plot is however, quite simplistic. Much of the plot concerns the only son of the Bolkonsky family and the eldest son of the Rostov family and their involvement in the war against Russia which reaches a climax with the famous battle of Borodino. The French briefly occupy Moscow but shortly after they retreat back to France. The novel's main character - Pierre Bezhukov is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count whose fortune he inherits when he dies. Although socially desirable because of his fortune, he is a social misfit and disillusioned with his wealth. He becomes a Freemason and at the end of the novel becomes involved with the war although he isn't officially a soldier or a member of the army. During the French occupation of Moscow he carries out some heroic acts and is taken prisoner before being rescued and liberated by the Russians when they eventually restore order and take back control of the country. He eventually marries the girl he loves and finds his peace with the world. He is an extremely complex character that is often a voice for Tolstoy's own beliefs and struggles. Some of the best chapters in the book concern him. I highly recommend this novel - it's awesome.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of the taciturn POTUS Calvin Coolidge, who when returning from a church sermon was asked by his sister what it was about.

"Sin" came the answer. "Well, what did he say?". "He was against it".

 

Coolidge was most famous for his answer to a beautiful young lady at a White House reception. She told Coolidge she had made a bet with her friends that she could coax the President to say more than two words. "You lose," was Coolidge's answer.

 

In terms of what I'm reading now, I'm almost finished with Embassy to the Eastern courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat by Edmund Roberts and published in 1837. It's an account of a three-year voyage to Asia and the Middle East to establish diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cochin-China (Vietnam), Siam and Muscat. It's fascinating to read his account of Bangkok and the Royal Court in 1832.

 

Evil

:devil

Link to post
Share on other sites

I pretty much grew up in Muscat and researched it's history many years ago. Very interesting place. The old Portugese forts in the bay where the Naval Base was were still in ruins, spent a lot of time exploring them. Also, opposite where the Naval Base was (it's since relocated) there is a large Jebel forming the wall for the natural inland cove, and upon it the names of visiting ships are and were painted. Nelsons Ship (HMS Victory) has a name and flag on it, although painted over since it was first done, I would imagine.

 

Back on topic, I'm actually reading Dante's Divine Comedy. It's something I've always wanted to get around to reading and although way beyond my usual fare of books on Architecture or Military History, I'm really enjoying it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

CHURCHILL & ORWELL: THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM by Thomas E. Ricks

 

Ricks is an American reporter and commentator on military history and current military affairs. He's an excellent writer. While he can be quite critical, he is pro-military overall.

 

This is described as a dual biography of Churchill and Orwell, focusing on the two men in the 1930s onward. His premise is that the two men, in very different ways, formed our anti-totalitarian world view.

 

I had previously avoided reading Orwell other than excerpts I was forced to read in literature courses, probably as being both too bleak and too wholesome. Similarly, I have never watched Forrest Gump. Due to this book, I may now have to read 1984 and Animal Farm in my dotage.

 

I'm much more familiar with Churchill. While I'm generally familiar with much of this, Ricks includes things often overlooked by academic historians. At some point, Churchill referred to former PM Ramsay MacDonald as "the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury bench." One can only wonder what he would have said about Mr. Bentham.

 

As to Orwell, Ricks goes through Orwell's time in Spain during the Civil War and Orwell's resulting disillusionment with the left. In passing, he mentions Hemingway who was in Spain at the same time and observes "He was as politically naive as Orwell was observant, in part because his macho posing got in the way of seeing accurately."

 

Getting to his premise, Ricks says "The 1930s were horrible in many ways." He points out a number of things which some would say were similar to what is happening now. However, he avoids making that comparison and I have heard a podcast with a very friendly interviewer where he does not do so either. I will eventually have to check the reviews and see if anyone else has had that thought.

 

As to Churchill and Orwell themselves, apparently they never met, but Orwell admired Churchill and, as a result, named the hero of 1984 Winston. Churchill says he read the book twice.

 

Perhaps a fourth of the way through and so far a great read.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

At some point, Churchill referred to former PM Ramsay MacDonald as "the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury bench." One can only wonder what he would have said about Mr. Bentham Corbyn.

 

 

Wrong Jeremy :wacko:

Link to post
Share on other sites

This month, I are mostly reading.....'Chesapeake' though I should say, 'This year im reading' as its huge.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Last book I read was "Outlaws Inc" by Matt Potter

 

Fantastic tale about the Russian IL-76 pilots who just took the planes when Russia had it's collapse, and started basically running guns, drugs, aid, etc.

Got it from Canterbury Tales last trip.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Last week I finished a biography of The Clash frontman Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz. It was brilliant and if you're a Clash fan then you would really enjoy this. I'm currently reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Sometime around 1956 I read a boolk that set me off on a life time search for answers and I have read what I can on the subject. The book in question was "The scourge of the swastika" and was the first attempt to document the Holocaust in total. I recall that I didn't discuss this book much with parents or school friends as the subject matter was overwhelming.

 

Over the years I have returned to the subject to try to understand two aspects and these are; " How did it occur?" and "How could a civilized nation be so guilty?". My latest reading has helped to clear some of the fog.

 

THE HOLOCAUST by LAURENCE REES.

 

This is a fast paced book and I had no problems working through over 400 pages. It starts in the early 1920's and gives a wealth of information as to the political situation that the German race found itself in after the first world war. There was untold political factions from the far right to the far left looking to capitalise on the level of unrest. Hitler had the advantage of being imprisoned for a couple of years and to some become a bit of a martyr for his beliefs. More importantly he had the time to write his Mein Kampf which was a blue print for his politics. The book details the twists and turns and it is 150 pages before we get to the war starting in Poland. There is therefore a good background into the whys and wherefores that lead up to the war but more importantly, what set Hitler apart form hundreds of other aspiring leaders of the rudderless German nation.

 

There is no way that a book like this can avoid the horrors of the war and new, never published interviews and recently located documents lend clarity to the history. It does however not get to Auschwitz until page 355 so he spends time on all the smaller actions and political meandering that lead to the horrific killing machine.

 

In summary I would recommend this book to anyone interested in modern history or the specific subject. For me, I understood the politics and history of the period better because this is fast paced and well written book. I did however get no nearer to understanding the individual actions and attitudes of the German nation and have chosen to believe that I never will.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.

One of my favourite books of the 70s and took me away from the angry prose of Sillitoe..

 

I introduced my sons to The Tao of Pooh a few years ago and my eldest is now reading Zen......Apparrantly there is a follow up to Pooh which I will buy when in UK in August...

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometime around 1956 I read a boolk that set me off on a life time search for answers and I have read what I can on the subject. The book in question was "The scourge of the swastika" and was the first attempt to document the Holocaust in total. I recall that I didn't discuss this book much with parents or school friends as the subject matter was overwhelming.

 

Over the years I have returned to the subject to try to understand two aspects and these are; " How did it occur?" and "How could a civilized nation be so guilty?". My latest reading has helped to clear some of the fog.

 

THE HOLOCAUST by LAURENCE REES.

 

This is a fast paced book and I had no problems working through over 400 pages. It starts in the early 1920's and gives a wealth of information as to the political situation that the German race found itself in after the first world war. There was untold political factions from the far right to the far left looking to capitalise on the level of unrest. Hitler had the advantage of being imprisoned for a couple of years and to some become a bit of a martyr for his beliefs. More importantly he had the time to write his Mein Kampf which was a blue print for his politics. The book details the twists and turns and it is 150 pages before we get to the war starting in Poland. There is therefore a good background into the whys and wherefores that lead up to the war but more importantly, what set Hitler apart form hundreds of other aspiring leaders of the rudderless German nation.

 

There is no way that a book like this can avoid the horrors of the war and new, never published interviews and recently located documents lend clarity to the history. It does however not get to Auschwitz until page 355 so he spends time on all the smaller actions and political meandering that lead to the horrific killing machine.

 

In summary I would recommend this book to anyone interested in modern history or the specific subject. For me, I understood the politics and history of the period better because this is fast paced and well written book. I did however get no nearer to understanding the individual actions and attitudes of the German nation and have chosen to believe that I never will.

 

Sounds like a good read. Thank you.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Just finished Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden. I highly recommend it for those who like military history. It's a great read.

 

Bowden is the author of Blackhawk Down and several other books.

 

As the name suggests, this is the story of the Battle of Hue during the Tet offensive in 1968.

 

Bowden tells many individual stories, but also gives an overview of how the battle was fought. He obviously picked the stories he tells. He mixes guys who absolutely seemed to be in their element with those who were bloody terrified but still did what they were told. He mentions only a very few who cut and ran. A surprising number had volunteered for Vietnam at least in some sense.

 

He's very critical of Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam at the time, and the generals in command in the immediate area of Hue. According to Bowden, the generals simply would not accept that a large conventional force had captured Hue and that they were going to have to mount a large scale conventional attack to take it back. Instead they fed in smaller units as they came available and got more people killed as a result.

 

In an epilogue he says that the war was unwinnable for the U.S. and the Saigon regime. He disclaims analysis of alternate history and whether or not victory could have been achieved if we had fought the war differently. However, it's hard to avoid wondering how it might have gone if we had had more competent leadership.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Just finished Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden. I highly recommend it for those who like military history. It's a great read.

 

Bowden is the author of Blackhawk Down and several other books.

 

As the name suggests, this is the story of the Battle of Hue during the Tet offensive in 1968.

 

 

 

 

Hi,

 

Had BigD any input on it ?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I recently finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. This is one of the most unusual books I've ever read. It's totally unique. It's a fictional autobiography about a motorcycle road trip that the first person narrator makes with his young son. The story is punctuated with numerous philosophical discussions. If you're a fan of philosophy then you'll enjoy this book. The actual story isn't particularly interesting at all but the discussions on philosophy are absolutely fascinating and it holds the book together. If you want something completely different then give it a go - its success speaks for itself because it's sold over 5 million copies.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...